NORINCO of China produces the QJY-88 machine gun for the People's Liberation Army (PLA) service. It is largely a conventional weapon and a true machine gun in that it sports a belt-fed mechanism, an air-cooled design, offers a "quick-change" barrel assembly to prevent over-heating and is operated by a crew of two. Beyond its service with the Chinese Army, the weapon is issued to some elements of Chinese police. The QJY-88 succeeds the aged line of Type 67 General Purpose Machine Guns (GPMGs) debuted in 1967 (detailed elsewhere on this site).
The QJY-88 is chambered for the unique 5.8x42mm cartridge, an intermediate rifle round developed by China in the 1980s for its armed forces and of similar mission scope and overall functionality to the American 5.56x45mm NATO and Soviet/Russian 5.45x39mm cartridges. The cartridges are fed into the QJY-88 system by way of 100- and 200-round-count belts held in a hardened ammunition case. While one operator manages the function of the gun (namely firing, clearing jams) the other operator feeds the belts into the receiver and resupplies the ammunition stock.
The QJY-88 can be configured to operate as two distinct battlefield forms: a lightweight Light Machine Gun (LMG) and a heavier general purpose type. The lightweight form tips the scales at 7.6 kilograms and is better suited to more mobile infantry squad-level work due to its portability. Conversely, the heavier-weight model is 11.8 kilograms. The light model is shorter at 1,151mm in length compared to the heavy model of 1,321 length but both versions feature a 600mm long barrel assembly. The shoulder stock is hollowed out as a weight-savings measure while a pistol grip/trigger arrangement is used to manage the firing action. A carrying handle set over the receiver is helpful in transportation of the weapon as well as useful when changing out a hot barrel (an overheated barrel can lead to fracturing or deformation of the assembly, damaging the function of the gun and endangering the operating crew).
The internal firing action consists of the tried-and-true gas operation which allows the users to regulate gas pressures and, therefore, affect the weapons rate-of-fire (which is between 650 and 700 rounds-per-minute). Muzzle velocity is 2,940 feet-per-second and effective range is out to 1,000 meters. Sighting is by way of iron sights fitted over the receiver (front and rear placements) though optics are optional for longer-ranged accurized fire when needed.
The QJY-88 series is supported through its various battlefield roles by both a folding bipod assembly (for the LMG role) and a heavy-duty tripod assembly (for more of a fixed, defensive solution).